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Emerald is located 266 kilometres west of Rockhampton on the Tropic of Capricorn and is the main town in an area known as the Central Highlands. The Emerald Shire has a broad and varied economic base that maintains its prosperity even when some industries experience downturns.

Coal, gemstone, cotton, grain, beef, citrus, mango, avocado, small crop and grape industries all rely on Emerald as a service and support centre. The irrigation of farms made possible by the Fairbairn Dam has reduced the impact of low rainfall on agriculture, expanded the variety of crops grown and ensured a reliable and plentiful water supply for the town.

Emerald’s location at the junction of two major inland highways and on the main central western rail connection mean that the transport and tourism industries have infrastructure in the town. As the geographic centre of a large region, there are a significant number of government offices and post compulsory education facilities located here. The town is well serviced by retail, commercial, building, engineering, medical, legal, financial and community facilities.